Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
I periodically cast a net out in cyberspace to see if I turn up any relevant-seeming essays or books. This is the fish I caught this morning:
In this paper the interrelations between peace, ethics and spirituality are approached from a metaphysical point of view. In contemporary spiritual discourses, peace and ethics are closely intertwined with particular metaphysical concepts of identity and reality. They are usually perceived in respect to “being” and “awareness”’, instead of moral imperatives. However, popular spiritual terms concerning identity and reality pose a problem when brought into academic and philosophical discourse. Under the influence of postmodern criticism the whole idea of metaphysics has become highly problematic, not to say suspect. This also holds true for notions that imply a universal status and claim to precede language, history or social construction—such as the terms Real Self and Ultimate Reality. In this paper I propose an alternative way of looking at these terms.
In accordance with postmodern tradition, all theory can be regarded as a pair of glasses through which one looks at certain phenomenon. Different pairs of glasses, i.e., different theories, offer different perspectives on the same experiences or events. In this paper, two perspectives, a postmodern perspective and a spiritual-metaphysical perspective, come up for discussion with respect to the phenomenon of spirituality. Postmodernism provides the observer with interesting insights when the gaze is turned to spirituality and spiritual experiences. This perspective provides a particularly sharp focus on the egalitarian diversity in different cultural practices and traditions, thereby deconstructing “old religion’s” sole claim of “the truth”. At the same time, a postmodern outlook also produces “blind spots”. For instance, it obscures the sight of possible ontological universal elements in different spiritual traditions, practices and experiences; it also excludes the option of a “given” or perceived reality/identity instead of a constructed one. This has led to the conclusion that a Real Self or Ultimate Reality doesn’t exist. But such a perception doesn’t take into full account the phenomenological side of spirituality and does only half-justice to the experiences and practices involved. A spiritual metaphysical perspective provides an alternative that makes it possible to see both the postmodern diversity and the spiritual universality. In new spirituality the paradox has a central place because of its paradoxical ontological ground structure. As such, a “new spiritual” pair of glasses presents a double focus, or vari-focus/multi-focus/bi-focus as opticians nowadays call this. This specific angle, as it were, deconstructs what in time has become the postmodern dogma: the nothing-but-diversity-truth and the conviction that reality or self can’t be anything else but constructed, immanent, and relative. The spiritual “double focus” glasses offer a view that is not only more inclusive than the postmodernism one, but also puts questions concerning peace and ethics in a different perspective. And it shows the culture-critical nature of new spirituality, often disregarded because of a supposed a-political orientation towards life. Following the argument of this paper, new spirituality is revealed as a potentially revolutionary force in our shared struggle for a globally just and peaceful co-existence...
[Read the full article here.]
Aldous Huxley, Huston Smith, Ken Wilber, and Roy Bhaskar. Familiar territory. The great granddaddy of trying to hook up non-dual philosophy and ethics is Schopenhauer. According to Paul Hacker it is absent from traditional Indian thought, but was introduced by Vivekananda after a visit with Vedanta scholar Paul Deussen, a disciple of Schopenhauer. It is curious how absent Schopenhauer's name is when his spectre looms over each attempt to link non-dual metaphysics and ethics.